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Taco Bell going natural

Taco Bell pledged today to rid its food of all artificial flavorings and colorings by the end of the year.

The Mexican chain said it will also eliminate all trans fats and will switch to sustainably grown palm oil.

Preservatives and other additives will be removed “where possible” by the end of 2017, the franchisor said.

The fast-food giant is the latest of several major chains to promise the removal of artificial ingredients from its food and provide more transparency about what’s left. Panera Bread Co. switched to “clean” versions of items like salad dressings earlier this month, and McDonald’s revealed plans to source chicken from growers who do not use certain antibiotics.

Taco Bell had been quietly changing its recipes, reducing salt content by about 15 percent. The chain had been careful not to alarm patrons who relish the taste of Taco Bell products, which have given the brand one of the highest frequency-of-visits rates in the industry.

The chain said about 95 percent of its menu items, excluding beverages, will be affected by the effort announced today.

“We’re part of an exciting time – a food revolution,” Liz Matthews, Taco Bell’s chief food innovation officer, said in a statement. “Today’s customers are more curious and interested about food than ever. They want to understand what they’re eating and expect to know more about it.”

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